“The Salvation” is nothing new. In fact, it feels a little dated, but that may please fans of the practically abandoned Western genre. The movie, by Danish director and co-writer Kristian Levring, doesn’t break new ground, but the story efficiently sets up the old battle of good vs. evil, and excellent acting makes up for middling special effects.
Mads Mikkelsen plays Jon, a Danish soldier who moved to America with his brother to find a better life and set up a home on the range for his wife and son. Seven years later, his family finally joins him. But no sooner do they step off their train than they are murdered by a couple of despicable drunks. Jon wastes no time getting his revenge. He hunts down the pair and kills them, only to realize that one of the thugs is the brother of a powerful goon named Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Delarue supposedly serves as the protective guardian of a nearby town, but really he terrorizes and extorts its residents. And when he finds out a killer is in their midst, he holds the whole town hostage until the citizens give up his brother’s murderer. All roads lead to a showdown, naturally.
“The Salvation” is a bleak movie about harsh living, and there is plenty of violence, although none of it is particularly gruesome compared to what we see on screen these days. The gunshot wounds that look like ketchup splotches make the villains seem a little less scary, but superb acting from a cast that includes Jonathan Pryce and Eva Green helps rectify that. Green is especially haunting in a wordless role as a scarred and tattooed woman who was kidnapped by Native Americans as a child only to be “rescued” by Delarue’s brother and forced into marriage.
Surprises are few and far between in “The Salvation,” but for Western fans looking for a fix, it’ll do the trick.
R. At the West End Cinema. Contains violence and sexual situations. 92 minutes.